Brussels, 25 October 2007
On October 26th European and Russian leaders will meet in Mafra, Portugal, to discuss the steady expansion in co-operation under the four common spaces, developments in the EU and Russia, as well as international and regional issues, in particular Kosovo. The European Union will be represented by European Commission President José Manuel Barroso, Portuguese Prime Minister and head of the Portuguese EU-Presidency José Socrates, , as well as External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner, Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson, , and High Representative Javier Solana. The Russian delegation will be headed by President Vladimir Putin, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sergey Lavrov, Minister of Trade and Economy, Elvira Nabiullina and Minister for Energy and Industry, Viktor Khristenko.
Speaking ahead of the Summit, Commission President José Manuel Barroso said: "We are making progress in expanding our relationship across a whole range of areas. Our economic ties are increasing and the Russian Federation is already our third trade partner. There are of course unsettled issues but we address them through a regular and open political dialogue. This 20th Summit will be an occasion to identify jointly the steps needed to take our cooperation further."
Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner added: "In the current situation it is important that we bear in mind our longer-term interests and the considerable potential of EU-Russia relations. We are not only neighbours with a long common history, but we implement on a daily basis the Common Spaces and its road maps, fully committed to making our ongoing cooperation as successful as possible."
In the margins of the EU-Russia Summit an agreement will be signed on further expansion of trade in steel and steel products, reflecting a part of the growing trade and investment relations both in Russia and the EU. The Summit will also be looking at the recently launched EU-Russia investment dialogue, and the joint initiatives to tackle the problem of lengthy queues at many border crossings.
On the eve of the Summit, an EU-Russia Industrialists Round Table meeting will take place with participation of Enterprise and Industry Commissioner Günter Verheugen and Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs, and which will give business the opportunity to give their input into the Summit. The state of play of Russia's WTO accession will be discussed, acknowledging the progress made, emphasizing the need for an early accession of Russia, and aiming to find mutually acceptable solutions to the outstanding issues.
Discussions in the field of energy will include the development of an early warning mechanism in case of potential supply difficulties, and the regular report of the EU-Russia energy dialogue.
With the visa facilitation and readmission agreements in force since 1 June 2007, leaders will be looking at the work that has started in the area of visa dialogue, where experts are discussing the conditions that are needed to move as a long-term goal towards a visa-free regime between the EU and Russia.
In the area of fight against drugs, the EU and Russia will sign a Memorandum of Understanding between the European Monitoring Centre on Drugs and Drug Addiction and the Russian Federal Drugs Control Service establishing the exchange information and technical expertise on the use of illegal drugs. Heroin abuse is a growing problem in Russia with an estimated third of Afghan opium being trafficked through the country to the EU.
On the eve of the Summit, the very first Permanent Partnership Council in the field of Culture will take place, signalling our strong commitment to take the cultural co-operation to a new level.
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